Alcohol-Related Rideshare Crashes in Missouri: Linking Intoxication to Preventable Car Accidents

Rideshare services like Uber and Lyft have become extremely popular in recent years, providing convenient transportation options in cities and towns across Missouri. However, this new model of transportation has also been linked to an increase in alcohol-related crashes. When drivers or passengers choose to drink and then rely on rideshares rather than driving themselves, it can still lead to devastating and preventable drunk driving crashes.

Alcohol Impairment Significantly Increases Crash Risk

It’s well established that alcohol impairment substantially increases the risk of being involved in a motor vehicle crash. Studies have shown that at a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of just 0.02%, the risk of a fatal crash can more than double. The more intoxicated a driver is, the more dramatically their crash risk escalates. Drunk drivers with a BAC of 0.08% are 5 to 20 times more likely to cause an accident than sober drivers.

Intoxicated Rideshare Passengers Also Pose Risks

While rideshares aim to provide safe transportation for intoxicated passengers who shouldn’t drive themselves, even passengers who have been drinking can increase the risk of a crash. Their intoxicated state may lead them to be disruptive and distract the driver, provide inaccurate destination instructions, or neglect to wear a seatbelt. Tragically, intoxicated passengers can even attack and attempt to assault rideshare drivers, causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle.

Increase in Fatal Rideshare Crashes Involving Intoxication

According to data analyzed by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), between 2014 and 2019 there was a significant nationwide increase in fatal crashes involving rideshare vehicles where alcohol impairment was a factor.

Missouri appears to mirror this trend. While comprehensive statewide data focused specifically on rideshare crashes is limited, lawyers are seeing more Missouri clients injured by intoxicated rideshare drivers or passengers. Missouri personal injury attorneys point to crashes in major cities like St. Louis and Kansas City involving impaired rideshare vehicles. They expect alcohol-related rideshare wrecks to continue increasing across the state if stronger safety measures aren’t implemented.

Unique Risk Factors of Rideshares

There are some unique risk factors related to rideshares that can make driving for a company like Uber or Lyft more dangerous than traditional driving jobs:

  • Continuous flow of strangers in the vehicle who may be intoxicated
  • Financial incentives rewarding drivers who complete more rides can promote riskier driving
  • Distracted driving if the driver is constantly monitoring the app to accept more ride requests
  • Fatigued driving due to long shifts trying to earn as much money as possible

These rideshare-specific dangers, combined with the crash risks of intoxicated passengers or impaired driver abilities, are proving to be a hazardous mix on Missouri roads.

App Features Should Discourage Drunk Rideshares

Rideshare companies do generally prohibit intoxicated passengers and encourage drivers to reject ride requests from visibly drunk customers. However, features built into the apps themselves could do more to actively deter people from relying on vehicles for hire when intoxicated. As an example, Uber previously experimented with screening drivers by having them upload a selfie to prove they are sober enough for a ride.

Features that could be implemented include:

  • Requiring passengers to take a sobriety selfie or correctly entering a verification code before booking a ride
  • Displaying the legal BAC limit on-screen to remind passengers
  • Prompting passengers to confirm they are sober as part of the pickup process
  • Enabling drivers to easily report intoxicated passengers once a ride has started

Regulators Must Consider Intoxication Risks

Government agencies also have an essential regulatory role to play in preventing drunk rideshare crashes. Issues to be addressed include establishing blood alcohol limits for drivers, requiring more robust driver screening and training, mandating breaks for fatigued rideshare drivers, and reconsidering controversial incentive structures.

As rideshares become more prominent, regulators must take concrete steps to enforce meaningful safety standards. They can’t allow the convenience of Uber, Lyft, and competitors to come at the cost of preventable injuries and deaths due to intoxicated vehicles for hire.

The Role of Rideshare Companies in Promoting Safety

While regulators set baseline rules, rideshare corporations also need to take responsibility for safety. They should pioneer technologies, policies, and programs to better screen out risks. Companies benefiting financially from rideshares operating on public roads have an obligation to minimize dangers to everyone sharing those same roads.

Patterned Progress Needed

Piecemeal steps by regulators or sporadic safety pilots run by rideshare platforms won’t be enough. The path forward relies on persistent, coordinated efforts using data patterns to pinpoint the highest priority risks requiring urgent attention. For example, applying analytics to map intersections, routes, or neighborhoods with frequent drunk rideshare crashes can spotlight prevention opportunities.

Only methodical, metrics-based progress pairing government oversight with corporate innovation will stem the rising tide of impaired rideshare accidents.

Seek Legal Help After an Alcohol-Related Crash

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries as the innocent victim of an intoxicated rideshare driver or passenger, meeting with an attorney should be your first call after getting medical treatment. An experienced Missouri rideshare accident lawyer can investigate fault and help injured victims recover damages for their harm. They will determine exactly who should be held legally responsible – whether that is a negligent rideshare company, the intoxicated individual, or other parties like bars overserving alcohol. Working with a legal professional maximizes the chances of a positive outcome providing the financial compensation necessary to move forward from a preventable drunk driving tragedy. Don’t wait, connect with dedicated legal help right away.

The takeaway is clear: without concerted efforts grounded in data, alcohol-fueled tragedies involving rideshares will continue wreaking havoc on Missouri roadways. But through proactive safety solutions, enhanced public awareness, and regulations, vulnerable drivers and passengers can stay protected even as transportation options multiply. There is too much at stake not to mobilize around this surging threat that remains fully preventable.

If you’ve been injured in an alcohol-related rideshare accident, give us a call on (888) 477-0597 for a free consultation. We have offices in 32 locations across 19 states, including Missouri, Arizona, and South Carolina, and can help you receive the compensation you deserve.